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Calgary Flames vs San Jose Sharks game preview: Okay this one's huge

There's a chance a playoff spot in the West could come down to the Flames or the Sharks, so it's an understatement to say that of all games, this one is an extremely important one to win.

Jiri Hudler is the best.
Jiri Hudler is the best.
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The Calgary Flames are still in a playoff spot. One of the teams they're battling with? Tonight's opponent, the San Jose Sharks. Both teams have played 51 games, and the Flames are just two points back. A regulation win will put them above them, as it would give the Flames the tie breaker, not to mention secure the season series, which Calgary currently leads 2-1 with two games to go. A playoff spot at the end of the season could very well come down to this.

But of course, they'll need to keep winning, just as they have their most recent two games. The Winnipeg Jets are the Flames' latest victims, falling in a 5-2 battle in which Rafa Diaz and Brandon Bollig scored their first goals as Flames. David Jones and Mason Raymond initially got the Flames on board, and after 17 saves on 19 shots by Jonas Hiller, Sean Monahan put it away with an empty netter. | RecapStatsBoxscore | Scoring five times in one game is pretty great:

And then, there are the Sharks. The Flames actually have more wins than they do, but San Jose has been blessed with more loser points, if you want to shake your fist at the current points system. Case in point? Their most recent game, a 5-4 shootout loss to the Oilers - after coming off clean wins against the Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, and Chicago Blackhawks. They gave up a late game-tying goal to Justin Schultz, and then finally lost after Rob Klinkhammer scored in the 13th round of the shootout.

The Sharks' Joes are a threat, as Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton had three points each in that game. For more on the team that was the star of the Superbowl halftime show, head on over to Fear The Fin.

Hopefully they're more left shark than right shark tonight.

Game time: 8:00 p.m. MT

Channel: SN and SN1 up here in Canada.

All-time record: It's been tight this season, but all-time, the Flames are better. They're winning at 64-49-8-4, with a +31 goal differential.

Common threads: Joe Thornton is a 6'4 man who plays for the San Jose Sharks. Joe Colborne is a 6'5 man who plays for the Calgary Flames. Thornton is better than Colborne.

Also, Scott Hannan has been a Shark for most of his career, but he did spend a season as a Flame once! Way back in 2011-12, where he managed to score two goals. He got his first goal of the season against the Oilers just a few days ago! Oh, Oilers.

Approaching milestones: There's nothing big upcoming for either team, but hey: worth noting that TJ Brodie's next point will tie a career high, and two points will give him a new one. That could certainly happen!

Current records and leaders

Calgary Flames San Jose Sharks
Record: 28-20-3: 59 points Record: 27-17-7: 61 points
Pacific Division: 4th Pacific Division: 2nd
Western Conference: 8th Western Conference: 5th
Goal Differential: +18 Goal Differential: +3
Time on ice
Defence: TJ Brodie (25:07 per game)
Forward: Sean Monahan (19:27 per game)
Defence: Brent Burns (24:07 per game)
Forward: Joe Pavelski (19:58 per game)
Goals: Sean Monahan (17)
Assists: Mark Giordano (32)
Points: Mark Giordano (43)
Goals: Joe Pavelski (27)
Assists: Joe Thornton (33)
Points: Joe Pavelski (46)
Shots on goal: Mark Giordano (130)
Shooting percentage: Josh Jooris (18.5%)
Shots on goal: Joe Pavelski (168)
Shooting percentage: Melker Karlsson (21.6%)
Faceoff Leaders
Sean Monahan (50.1%, 1143 taken) Joe Thornton (58.7%, 608 taken)
Penalty minutes: Brandon Bollig (47)
Hits: Lance Bouma (165)
Blocked shots: Kris Russell (161)
Penalty minutes: Andrew Desjardins (48)
Hits: Tommy Wingels (174)
Blocked shots: Justin Braun (86)
ES Corsi/Fenwick (minimum 1/2 team's games played)
Corsi for%: Jiri Hudler (49.59%, 48 GP)
Mark Giordano (49.57%, 51 GP) 
Fenwick for%: Josh Jooris (51.25%, 36 GP)
Jiri Hudler (50.32%, 48 GP)
Corsi for%: Joe Thornton (58.64%, 47 GP)
Tomas Hertl (56.63%, 51 GP)
Fenwick for%: Joe Thornton (58.03%, 47 GP)
Matt Nieto (55.60%, 41 GP)

Possible starting lineups

Calgary Flames
Left Wing Center Right Wing
Johnny Gaudreau Sean Monahan Jiri Hudler
Lance Bouma Mikael Backlund David Jones
Mason Raymond Josh Jooris Joe Colborne
Brandon Bollig Matt Stajan Paul Byron
Left Defense Right Defense
Mark Giordano TJ Brodie
Kris Russell Dennis Wideman
Rafa Diaz Deryk Engelland
Jonas Hiller
Karri Ramo

San Jose Sharks
Left Wing Center Right Wing
Melker Karlsson Joe Thornton Joe Pavelski
Patrick Marleau Logan Couture Matt Nieto
Tomas Hertl James Sheppard Barclay Goodrow
John Scott Andrew Desjardins Daniil Tarasov
Left Defense Right Defense
Marc-Edouard Vlasic Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon Matt Tennyson
Matt Irwin Scott Hannan
Alex Stalock
Antti Niemi

Some honest-to-goodness good news, finally:

It's pathetic that it took the Flames this long to realize they were, bizarrely, never going to actually play their best defence prospect, especially over their worst defenceman who has really not exactly contributed positively the entire time he was up, but at least they finally realized it.

Haha sure whatever Bradley. So what's the excuse on Sven Baertschi and Markus Granlund? Because looks like Baertschi's right back in the pressbox, and Granlund has been recalled to do absolutely nothing.

This team sometimes, you guys. Lineup remains unchanged other than the return of a healthy Backlund.